Friday, April 24, 2009

The Box From Another World

One day it just appeared on the coffee table. We weren't sure who had given us the black box, or why. "It might be from another dimension," Marvin said. I said he'd been watching too many bad movies.

Shiny, plastic, inscrutable, it sat on our coffee table. We left it there for days. Didn't talk much about it. Tried to ignore it. But there it sat - that black box. "Wonder what's in it," I said. "We'd better not open it," Marvin said. "Anything could be in there."

We puzzled over it. It really gave our brain cells a workout, I tell you. It sat there - sinister and waiting - for a week.

One day we just couldn't take the stress anymore. "I'm just going to flip that switch," I said. It was just making me mad, is all. It was driving us crazy. You don't know how crazy. We were fighting over little things. Couldn't sleep, thinking about the box. Making lists of who might've sent it. Maybe Marvin's Aunt Lucy, who had never forgiven him for leaving the milk out overnight all those years ago.

Maybe my old roommate Dolly, who liked practical jokes. She was always putting rubber spiders on my desk. "Maybe it's Dolly," I told Marvin finally. "I just have to know. Maybe there's a note inside. I'll bet it's her."

"Whoever sent it, I just want to know what's inside. Little puzzles, maybe. Or candy - maybe there is candy inside. Sometimes fancy chocolates, they come in a black box," I said. If it was candy, it wasn't from our world, I thought. That made me curious to see, so I flipped the switch and took a few steps back. We waited.

The box had began to jump. "Probably it isn't candy," I said. "Maybe Mexican jumping beans?" The lid rose slowly...very slowly. Marvin retreated to the doorway, ready to bolt.

And then the hand reached up out of the Mysterious Box. We stared at it, frozen.

It waved impatiently, like it was hailing an invisible taxi. "Hey you out there!...Yeah you, c'mon, come over here. I'm not gonna bite ya. Not unless you're a cookie! Har har....Speaking of which - you got anything good to eat?"

"You're a hand," I replied, trying to hide my dismay.

"It's not for me, folks. It's for him."

"The big intellectual genius in here." The hand made a huffing sound. It jabbed a thumb downwards. "He's been thinking inside the box for too long. He says it makes him hungry."

Marvin muttered "OK, I'm out of here." Didn't see him for three weeks after that, either.

"Well - um, OK. What does he like?" I said. "We have some leftover clam dip, I think."

"Nope, no good, sorry Charlie! What else? Desserts, how about desserts? He likes chocolate chip cookies. Even graham crackers would do, in a pinch."

"Sorry. We ate up all the Chips Ahoy last night. But I do have some Jell-O salad, I think. It's called Ring-Around-The-Tuna."

The hand shuddered, and made a - well, a very rude gesture. Then it grabbed the switch, turned it to OFF and slid back into the box, slamming the lid behind it.

I didn't want to touch the box but I wasn't staying in the room with it either. Went in the kitchen and had a look at the Ring-Around-The-Tuna. It was a "beautiful jewel-like entree salad," that what it had said in The Joys of Jell-O. But it was also a powerful weapon against the unknown and unseen.

The Jell-O salad shimmered strangely, looking more luminous than when I had made it - I was sure of that. It was positively glowing. Something was happening. And things were going to be different around the house from now on. I was sure of that, too.


Kris said...

We had a box like that when I was a kid. Actually this one did something - the hand grabbed the coin and the coin was never to be seen again.

Gotta tell ya - that olive jello mold looks really disgusting! People actually ate that?

Dee said...

We also had a bank where the hand would come out and grab the coin. It was fascinating to me as a kid. If I had one today, I would probably still be entertained by it.

Tori Lennox said...

Did they even have intellectual novelties 100 years ago?

And I never knew Thing from The Addams Family had cranky relatives.

ArtSparker said...

Is the tuna a complete fish, preserved in jello ?

Phyl said...

Oooh, mysterious Black Box! (Yegods, the things they used to make that were so, you know, useful. Bet it had a Pet Rock inside.)

And then a bonus treat -- shimmering jello at the end. Complete with very visible, staring olives. Not to mention radish rosettes. Be still my beating heart!

Lidian said...

Kris - At least it grabbed a coin, this one does nothing! And the ad thinks it is such an intellectual treat, too.

Dee - I would like it as a bank, too. As long as it did give you back your money, eventually.

Tori - I'm not sure. They seem to have had them in the 60s, though. Sort of.

ArtSparker - hard to tell what is in that Jell-O. Olives, certainly. beyond that, it is anyone's guess.

Phyl - You're right, the olives ARE staring. Oh dear.

Shay said...

Those two stuffed olives front and center make the (already hideous) Jello ring look like it has a bad case of wall-eye.

(and the little radish people are kinda creepy, too).

Lidian said...

Shay - You're right. We need to keep an eye on those radish people...And the olives. 'Cause they're watching!

Bill said...

The pairing of the black box and the luminous jello is inspired.

That jello mold is a work of art...and I don't eat art.
Thank heavens.

Beth said...

Oh my sweet Lord, are those OLIVES in that Jell-O? The horror, the horror! I have seen it, and now I can't un-see it...

You know, my grandmother used to make Jell-O molds with carrots and raisins in them, and my mother once made tomato aspic using raspberry-flavored Jell-O. (That was 25 years ago and we still haven't forgiven her.) But olives in what appears to be lime gelatin, that's a new one.

Hairball said...

If I have a nightmare about a ginormous Ring-Around-The-Tuna chasing me, I'm blaming you!! *shudders*

Lidian said...

Bill - I was trying to think of a food that would scare the hand in the box, and Jell-O just sprang to mind...

Beth - My mother used to buy the jello/Cool Whip?? molds, sort of marbleized bundt-shaped things, in the grocery store. They frightened me. I think they still sell them but do not know why.

Hairball - Just stick to Jell-O without stuff in it and you will be fine.

John | English Wilderness said...

Years ago, I used to work in a joke shop and we sold the box with a hand that grabs the coin.

They were always coming back broken! :-)

Lidian said...

John - Oh dear, were you able to fix them?